Best Music From 2014
Instead of making a full top 10 list, I decided to highlight a few of my absolute favorite albums from 2014. I also added a single word which I feel describes the album as a whole–something that immediately comes to mind when I think of the songs.
Copeland - Ixora
This is the one album on this list which doesn’t immediately draw any word or image to mind. It’s an album fairly predictable by Copeland standards. Meaning, there isn’t any distinctively new direction the songs collectively take on. Most borrow parts of the past to make up something new. It’s consistent in the best way possible.
Part of it too is still the shock and awe of a new Copeland album–after the band disbanded years ago. Ixora births a few surprises like “Like A Lie” which breaks into a sultry chorus, one with a thick groove. Or the acoustic and muzak-like “World Turn” which adds a saxophone and still isn’t cheesy like it might sound.
What Ixora really does is just make me want Copeland to keep making music.
James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical
Has there every been a more aptly titled album? Post Tropical is this subtly muted, but still equally bright collection of songs that vibrates interesting melodies from each line. See “Gold” as the best example.
I found myself listening to this record while writing and it provided the necessary movement without being distracting. When it’s at the forefront of my attention, however, it’s visually stimulating. McMorrow’s falsetto nears glass breaking potential, yet it’s still calming and soothing. This is a record that may take two full listens before it clicks with some people, but the time is well worth it.
Colony House - When I Was Younger
Colony House is currently made up of three full-time members (and more touring ones) all of whom bared their souls on the band’s debut record. Starting off with “Silhouettes,” it may appear as if the album is predictable indie/rock, but it’s not.
Simply stated, the lyrical content is powerful. It’s based around a family dealing with loss and ultimately being made stronger, rather than falling to weight of grief. Starting with “Won’t Give Up,” tracks 10, 11, and 12 are the highlight of the album, but it’s still an episodic journey that should be taken from start to finish.
Leif Vollebekk - North Americana
This is the album you put on after a long day at work. It’s also the one you can put on while you have an intimate diner party. Even if the conversation breaks, Vollebekk’s storytelling sense of style carries on.
Listening to North Americana it’s as if you’re walking the streets of New York. His voice is distinct and the lyrical details are ones only a few specific singer-songwriters can manage to pull of with grace.
Madi Diaz - Phantom
This record is both upbeat and slow, but the way it transitions from one spectrum to the other is a thing of beauty. There are a lot of different approaches to an album’s flow and track listing–none of which I’d say are right or wrong–but Phantom’s slow descent in BPM (beats per minute) works perfectly for its tone.
The whole album is tragically sad, mostly about a lost love. Which is why it comes off angsty and moody–with bite to backup its bark. Diaz isn’t just a pretty voice singing pretty songs, rather she’s telling (seemingly) honest stories that give the music staying power.
Also worth an extra mention are a few brilliant albums from artists I didn’t know about before 2014.
Pepa Knight’s new EP, Hypnotized Vol. 1, is wonderful. Full of intricate sounds, it’s never too obscure or predictable for its own good.
For those with a Bon Iver obsession, Novo Amor is gunning for you. Soft sounds mixed with a tender voice, his latest album will lull you to sleep or calm your nerves.
I love a good singer-songwriter and I Am The Sky is a top notch one. It’s the whole package, but there’s something distinct about his voice that sets him apart. Plus, he named his record, The World Doesn’t Need Another Record, which is what got me to listen in the first place.
There were a lot of other albums I enjoyed this year too. Here are some prominent ones in no particular order, all of which are worth your time.
- Have Mercy - A Place Of Our Own
- The Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt
- Wild Cub - Youth
- The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream
- The Colourist - Self Titled
- Farewell Flight - I Was A Ghost
- Switchfoot - Fading West
- Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
- Sucre - Loner
- Braid - No Coast